Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Boundary extension plan to include likely development sites

HENLEY’S boundary could be extended to include parts of Harpsden parish.

HENLEY’S boundary could be extended to include parts of Harpsden parish.

Under plans drawn up town clerk Mike Kennedy, the new boundary would follow Gillotts Lane, then go west below Tree Tops House to include Highlands Farm.

It would also include Gillotts School and its playing fields and Henley leisure centre, all of which are currently in Harpsden.

Mr Kennedy said: “There is a strong case for Henley parish to absorb part of Harpsden parish.

“The boundary should follow the natural demographic and physical features of the town rather than those artificially drawn as at present.

“For example, it appears incongruous that the town boundary includes Drawback Hill but excludes the adjacent field, Gillotts School and the sports centre.” His plan was prompted by a requirement to build 400 new houses in Henley by 2027 and comes after the two parishes agreed to work together in producing a neighbourhood plan that will help guide development.

Mr Kennedy said: “This presents an ideal opportunity for changes to be made to the parish boundary now so that any new development would be included within the town boundary rather than the parish of Harpsden.”

Speaking at a meeting of Henley Town Council’s finance and strategy management committee, he said the opportunity should be “seized” now as there was unlikely to be another one for at least 10 years.

Deputy Mayor Martin Akehurst said that while changing the boundary was an excellent idea logically he felt there should be in-depth discussion with Harpsden Parish Council.

Councillor Will Hamilton said: “We should go ahead with this plan to extend the boundary. It will make the position of the neighbourhood plan when it comes to progress much easier.”

Councillor Jeni Wood agreed, saying: “This ought to have been done years ago — it is ludicrous really if you look at the map. I do not know how the boundaries were ever formed that way.

“I know we have to speak to Harpsden but I think that for Henley, there are more pros on doing this than cons.”

Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said that if the three sites were going to be developed it would seem ridiculous that they weren’t in Henley, adding: “These houses will have an impact on the infrastructure and everything else in Henley.”

Councillor Ian Reissmann said: “Guidance says that parish boundaries should flow in geographical lines and it is obvious that the current one does not.

“Highlands Farm is likely to be redeveloped over the next 20 years and Henley and Harpsden are very different places. This would identify Harspden as separate from the developed part of Henley and they could argue that they are rural and undeveloped.

“We have an opportunity that we probably won’t have again for 10 years but we need to communicate with Harpsden.”

The committee voted by seven votes to two in favour of the proposal, subject to discussions with Harspden parish councillors, and the issue will now be considered by the full council.

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